Girard Hall provides space to perform, present and create art, music and films.
A warehouse sits at 527 W. Girard Ave., at the corner of 6th Street and Girard Avenue.
The building constitutes a creative workshop for a core group of artists and musicians who work in the space daily, fosters a collaborative outlet for the community and serves as another work-in-progress for the group, the Girard Hall Collective.
Senior film majors Craig Scheihing, Zack Auron, Kyle Maack and Jake Kindlon formed the collective last fall. Scheihing and Auron decided to rent the space to form an avenue of artistic expression for their friends. Working in mediums ranging from painting and photography to film and music, the group of Temple students and other Philadelphia artists united around the idea that imaginative endeavors thrive on interplay.
“It’s great having creative minds in one creative space,” Auron said. “What’s good about having so many people working is when one person isn’t here, there’s always other people who could help.”
Though the workspace is an all-in-house production studio, Girard Hall also houses film screenings, concerts, art exhibitions, record/magazine release parties and other collaborations with local artists.
Margaret McLaughlin, a senior linguistics major who has earned the unofficial title of “house mom,” said that the mix of artists in the house leads to a mix of music types.
“[Often], the day goes from Craig [Scheihing]’s punk to universal jazz to [evening] rap practice with hip-hop instrumentals,” McLaughlin said.
Outside the apartment, a newsstand provides a portal for a photography and creative writing magazine, called “Unframed,” produced by Scheihing. The first issue featured writing solely from collaborating artist Malcolm Bates, a senior English and Italian major. Bates’ abusive “Letters to Craig” series is a Facebook favorite.
Scheihing said the newsstand started as “an outlet to distribute what was happening inside” but it became a link to outside collaboration. The “Unframed” box itself was painted by collaborating artist, Jeremy Jams, a painting major and Temple alumnus.
Bandname, Jams’ punk band, performed a New Year’s Eve show at Girard Hall, and Scheihing is working on their animated music video. Resident artist Kerri McGuckin, an undeclared junior, helped shoot photos at the show. Her pit bull, Pokey, is Girard Hall’s mascot.
Initially, no one was sure how the group would work, but the warehouse had potential despite its decrepit walls and dysfunctional toilet.
“It was trashed – people just left everything,” Maack, a co-founding member of Girard Hall, said. “There was rotting meat in the freezer. We tore down walls and painted, [but] it’s still coming together.”
Defining the collective’s direction was almost as daunting as cleaning the mess.
“When we read our mission statement we didn’t know exactly what to do because it sounded like we took ourselves too seriously, so we just changed it to ‘come hang out with us,’” Maack said, as he animated a fellatio-giving cat for a project called “Rebel,” which will feature voiceovers by James Franco and Devendra Banhart.
However, Kindlon said the ambience of the apartment gives guidance to their art.
“The lady who wrote “Eat, Pray, Love” said ‘genius is a thing that lives in the walls,’” Kindlon said, half-jokingly. “When you live with a bunch of artists, it’s easy to tell when the genius is coming out because everyone is either happy and creating or sad and masturbating.”
One rule for sharing the space was that group decisions must be made unanimously.
With this attitude, the collective took where a broken trampoline once stood and made Mount Olympus. Kindlon is directing a movie combining Greek mythology and hip-hop culture, titled “Vocabulary of the Mysteries.”
The story stars André Cofield, a senior studying industrial design at the Art Institute of Philadelphia, as the god Hephaestus, who builds a lady-bot to find happiness on earth after losing a dance battle to Zeus.
Cofield began working on the project as its “hip-hop consultant.” Auron, who is the photography director on the film, said Cofield earned the lead from his intimate involvement with the project.
Auron’s longtime friend, Brenan Fay-Martin, a graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design, also contributed artwork to the movie and painted artwork Cofield conceived for his upcoming album, “The Journey.” To edit the film, Maack is delaying post-production of “Yoke,” his documentary about Christian communities in Pennsylvania.
Donnell Powell, a senior broadcasting, telecommunications and mass media major, has a role in the film as Henchman No. 1 but he plays a larger part as the movie’s “media guru,” managing photos and video of the production on its Tumblr.
As production director of Color My Sidewalk, a local arts program, Powell said for art to engage a community is too much for individuals. The interdisciplinary structure collective sets an example for Temple to consider.
Powell described the work as a humbling experience where consensus and constructive criticism craft creations. Before conceiving commercialization, the collaborative climate is what the collective values.
“It’s exactly like the movie,” Kindlon said. “Everyone’s always looking at the footage of it and saying, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to see the final product.’ This place brings people together so much that it doesn’t matter what the final product is because we’re doing it now.”
Andrew Small can be reached at email@example.com.